Carmindy of What Not To Wear

I finished off my Beauty Live experience yesterday with Carmindy from TLC’s What Not To Wear and, to be quite honest, found myself with mixed feelings.

Carmindy has been in the industry for 20-something years, does makeup for the victims of What Not To Wear, and is now the author of several books, so I was pretty interested in what she had to say.

She began her presentation with speaking about confidence and how the beauty industry puts pressure on all of us to meet certain (unrealistic) standards, which thus takes constant hits at our self confidence.  She encouraged the women of the audience to take time everyday to practice, what she called “Mirror Mantras” and try to focus on the good things about yourself, rather than tear yourself down by obsessing about what you feel is wrong with you.  Also, Carmindy urged us all to fight the need to compare ourselves to one another and instead use “contagious compliments” to not only encourage each other, but to feel better about ourselves.

I can’t disagree with any of the above, some of it may sound kind of cheesy, but I was rather pleasantly surprised that she would take up a good 20 minutes of her time there to focus on that, rather than promoting her new makeup line, or her new book, Crazy Busy Beautiful.

Unfortunately, things went a little down hill for me when it came to Q&A time.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a celebrity hater, but there are some things that I just think people should think a little harder about before they say. While I appreciated what she had to say about confidence and positivity, she kicked off the Q&A session by asking that audience members do their best to address her in a positive way. For example, instead of asking her “What can I do to fix my dark circles” she would prefer you say, ” What can I do to brighten my eyes”.  I get the sentiment here, but I was put off by it for two reasons:

1.) I don’t think it’s quite fair to put these people who’ve come to listen to you speak on the spot and make them feel awkward about asking you their questions because they have to make sure they’re asking the right way.

2.) I feel like it’s not really giving respect to the questions themselves. It’s great to encourage people to be positive and not to tear themselves down, but if what they’re struggling with is severe, hereditary, dark circles, then I feel like they have the right to express that specifically in order to get the kind of answer they’re looking for. “How can I brighten my eyes” can mean a lot of different things and have a lot of different answers, many of which wont help certain types of dark circles at all.

Next Carmindy mentioned several times that it was unnecessary to spend tons of money on makeup and skincare from department stores, when you could get quality makeup from drug stores, and go to your doctor for good skincare. I don’t disagree (entirely) with either of those things, however, Macy’s was hosting Carmindy’s visit to the mall and her book signing, and we were sitting outside of Saks and Nordstroms.  I am well aware that not everyone can afford top of the line cosmetics, I’m also in favor of not spending money where you don’t have to, but there  ways to communicate that without knocking the department stores.

The examples above I just considered to be in poor taste, what really bothered me, however, and what speaks directly to the problem I have with a lot of celebrities, was Carmindy’s answer to a woman’s question about how to treat Melasma.

For those who aren’t familiar, Melasma is a condition (sometimes referred to as “pregnancy mask”) that is common among (but not limited to) women who are pregnant or who have recently been pregnant, which results in dark places on the face (the upper lip for example). The woman who asked the question mentioned that she had two children, one of which she had with her and was a very young infant, and wanted to know how to treat it, and Carmindy’s first recommendation was to get a cream with Hydraquinone in it (she also mentioned getting something with glycolic acid).

The trouble I have with this answer is that, that was the extent of it, and while that might not of been the time to go into a full scale description of the product, Hydraquinone isn’t something that you should just be recommending without offering some cautions along with it. Hydraquinone filters through your liver, and can be damaging to the liver if used incorrectly, but the even more important fact in this particular case is that women who are pregnant or nursing shouldn’t use it at all because it’s dangerous for babies. I feel like the recommendation could have AT LEAST come with the caution to check with your doctor before using the product.

There is, of course, the chance that the woman with Melasma will do her research and see the risks for herself, there’s also the chance that she may go into a store to get something with hydraquinone in it and find herself with a knowledgeable sales person who can warn her. However, it’s possible  that she does none of these things and simply takes Carmindy’s word for it, because if Carmindy said it, it must be true, and  unknowingly run the risk of endangering her health and that of her child’s.

While it very well may be the woman’s responsibility to do her own homework before taking the advise of a celebrity professional, at the same time, I think some responsibility still falls on the person giving the advice, and it disappoints me that people in that sort of position, aren’t more careful about the advice they’re giving out.

For this reason, please take it upon yourselves to ask questions, to do your homework, and to get multiple opinions before you try something. Obviously not everything is going to have serious consequences, but it never hurts to investigate for yourself! =)

I don’t want to end this blog entry on a negative note (ha!), I also don’t want to leave you with the impression that Carmindy is an awful person, I don’t think that at all. As celebrities go, I enjoyed listening to her talk, I thought she was genuine in what she was saying and I’m glad I had the opportunity to sit in on her session.